Congressional Republicans are acting as if the 2012 campaign is continuing, so perhaps it isn’t surprising that the president followed suit. He gave a progressive speech that Democrats will like; he affirmed the importance of climate change and gay rights, defended by name the sanctity of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, and made a pitch for infrastructure and education spending.

All worthy causes, but the speech lacked the unifying or transcendent ideas that could help Obama do much more than continue the Washington version of trench warfare during his second term. …

Missing from the speech was the first inaugural address’s perhaps naïve dream of uniting America. This second speech seemed to accept that America is divided and, as Obama put it, “progress does not compel us to settle centuries long debates about the role of government for all time.” He called out those who would “treat name-calling as reasoned debate”—I wonder who that could mean?—but Obama’s plan seemed to be to roll the negativists, rather than try any longer to reason with them.